PITTSFIELD -- Football coaches and team captains from Monument Mountain, Pittsfield, Taconic, Drury, Mount Greylock and Wahconah assembled at Pittsfield High School for the annual Berkshire County media night on Thursday.
Wahconah coach Gary Campbell Jr. opened the gathering by speaking on the importance of sportsmanship and pride while playing football in the Berkshires, using former Warrior and current UMass fullback Jordan Fiske, as well as Greylock offensive tackle and Wake Forest commit Jake Benzinger, as examples of players who have reached or will reach the next level.
"There's the utmost respect for you guys, from all our coaches and everyone else," he said. "We'll battle, and we'll hate each other on the field, but afterward, we'll shake hands and move on."
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Heading into the second year of the state playoff system, Pittsfield coach Brian Jezewski said there are still some wrinkles that could be ironed out.
"It's a work in progress," he said. "It has its ups and downs."
He added that there needs to be a uniform set of standards from teams in Western, Central and Eastern Mass.
Last year, the Lee football team was on the outside looking in when it came to the playoffs, and coach Keith Thomson told The Eagle he'd be in favor of minor tweaks -- specifically, getting credited for playing a tough schedule.
Jezewski said those issues were discussed in a meeting about the playoff system last week.
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Monument Mountain is the only school in Berkshire County breaking in a new head coach in former Spartans assistant Chris D'Aniello.
D'Aniello said he was being groomed to take over the position last season. He added that he wants to install principles of power running to his team.
"Last year I had a lot of head coaching responsibilities," he said. "This year has been more about making sure we're getting people in the right places.
"What I want to do is create an identity as a team. To be a power football team. We want to get that identity back at Monument."
D'Aniello said he believes he has the backs capable of implementing his system in Terrance Powell, Mark Leon-Duque and Mike Buffoni. The Spartans won't have 2013 All-Eagle honoree Malik Wilbon, however, as the all-purpose back did not return to the squad for his senior year.
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When introducing himself to the coaches, players and media in attendance, former St. Joseph quarterback Nate Stump joked that it would be nice to finally when a game.
While it's impossible to say how many games the Drury/St. Joe co-op program will win, Stump said he's grateful for the opportunity to play for a team with improved depth.
"[Last season] was tough," he said. "Obviously I love playing, but it's tough when you're not scoring -- not only not winning games, but we weren't scoring."
As the season progressed, the losses continued to be more lopsided. Getting shut out, and allowing 60-plus points to opposing offenses, did not make for a enjoyable final season in the Crusader program.
"We just didn't have the numbers," he said. "It's unfortunate. Not just for football, but the school as a whole is declining in numbers.
"It's tough not being able to play at St. Joe, but also it's kind of nice to come up to [North Adams] and have a little more depth and guys returning with a little more experience."